Little Free Library 2: Fulfilling UN Goals Locally

“People are at the center of sustainable development,” states the UN General Assembly in their 2014 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). For a society to be truly sustainable, it must also be “just, equitable and inclusive.”  Thus, sustainable efforts must not only include fighting climate change and limiting fossil fuels, but also arming people with education, literacy, and access.

In early December, the University Facilities and Services helped accomplish these goals on a local level by building a second Little Free Library in University Park. A Little Free Library is a box that may resemble a large birdhouse with donated books for people to take, return, and exchange. It is designed to encourage a sense of community, increase reading and literacy, and promote sharing ideas and knowledge. These benefits meet the objectives that are encouraged in the UN’s SDG’s.

Not only does the library achieve the goals of sustainability through its book sharing, but the book house itself exemplifies sustainability, as it is composed of all recycled materials. The Circulation Desk in Rush Rhees Library was cut in half and redesigned and while the scrap wood would have otherwise been thrown away, instead it was recycled and used for the construction of this Little Free Library. Facilities Mechanic Brian Snyder explained that the sturdy mahogany of the desk was ideal for the structure’s assembly, as the material had to be able to withstand Rochester weather conditions. Furthermore, the roof was made from recycled materials. Construction Renovation Manager Tom Calvert had leftover asphalt shingles from the construction of his own roof at home. Instead of disposing of the extra material, he brought it in and used it to complete the structure and keep out snowfall. The plexiglass door of the box was also made from small, unused pieces from past Facilities projects.

Like the University’s first  Little Free Library in Whipple Park, the structure sits right outside of the complex’s main office to attract attention from residents and visitors alike.  However, the aesthetic of this Little Free Library is much different from the first whereas the first engages people through its color and character and the second engages people through its upscale and sophisticated design.

The SDG’s of the UN make the commitment “to work together to promote sustained and inclusive economic growth, social development and environmental protection and thereby to benefit all, in particular the children of the world, youth and future generations of the world.” Installing a new Little Free Library is a tangible way to help achieve these goals right here in our own community.

To learn how to establish a Little Free Library in your own community, click the link to this video.

To discover more Little Free libraries in Rochester, click this link.

To see more pictures of the Little Free Libraries, check out our album on the UR Sustainable Facebook page.


Written by Julie Elliot, Class of 2015